Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Middle Eastern Males

How do they know these guys are "middle eastern males"? Two things I have noticed about people in this country are: (1) there is a common belief that "middle easterners" (which almost always means Arabs) look a clearly recognizable way, and (2) what Americans think of as "looking middle eastern" usually is more like South Asian than actual middle eastern. (e.g. Sayid Jarrah, the Iraqi character on Lost, played by someone who looks like an Indian and in fact is of Indian descent).

Arabs have a pretty wide range of looks. I met Arabs with red hair and freckles in Syria, and in North Africa there are Arabs who have black skin like sub-Saharan Africans. A lot of Arabs just look like white people (e.g. Ralph Nader or Helen Thomas) and some might get mistaken for Italians (e.g. Tony Shalhoub). Unless they were wearing a thawb or something like that, I have zero confidence that these witnesses would be able to accurately identify a stranger as an Arab or any other middle easterner.

(via Memeorandum)